Assam government directive on school bag weight goes unheeded | Guwahati News


Vishal Das
GUWAHATI: The state government’s instructions to all educational institutions to put a cap on the weight of school bags have fallen on deaf ears, students and parents have alleged.
Last year, the Assam government had set guidelines on the maximum weight of school bags following the Union human resources development ministry’s directive. The state had also formed enforcement squads to inspect the schools and convene review meetings every month and send reports to the Centre.
Priyanka Das, a Class V student in an aided school in Guwahati, said the school authorities had not informed her about the weight limitation. “I am unaware about the reduction in school bag weight and I am not informed by any teacher about it,” she said hoisting a big load on her back.
Rajib, parent of a Class III student, said he was not aware of the guidelines set by the HRD ministry. Another parent said that the school authorities had been negligent about informing the parents and students about the order. “Although I was not aware of the order on weight of school bags, I use to regularly check my son’s school bag, so that he doesn’t need to carry any extra materials,” he added.
However, a parent who was aware of the last year’s order, said even though the notification was passed to the schools last year, most of the schools had turned a blind eye to it. “I am just hoping for stricter implementation and execution of the centre’s directions this time,” said Arnab.
The central order stated that the weight of school bags for Classes I and II should not be above 1.5kg, while that for Classes III to V the weight should be between 2 to 3kg. Students enrolled in Classes VI to VII should not carry more than 4kg, while students of Classes VIII and IX should carry school bags weighing 4 to 5kg. For Class X students, the weight should not exceed 5kg.
However, schools have been ensuring that the weight of school bags is reduced. Headmistress of St. Mary’s School in Maligaon said, “We have already ensured that the students do not carry extra textbooks and we have been following it from the past three years. The school provides loose sheets to students to do their classwork so that they are not made to carry any extra copies.”
Manju Rani Barman, principal of Sonaram Higher Secondary School, said they didn’t make their students carry heavy books. Students borrow books from the school library which in a way can help them reduce the load in their back, she said.
The state education department has now set a deadline of May 30 for schools to reduce the weight of school bags. Education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya has instructed all the educational institutions to follow the HRD ministry guidelines.
Bhattacharya said after the deadline, the government would carry out surprise inspections in schools to check if weight of school bags are within the prescribed limit. “We will be taking strict measures after May 30,” he added.

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